Buying a pet online? Beware of puppy scams in South Africa!

A serial petscam syndicate is defrauding consumers

November 1, 2019
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Overview of puppy scams in South Africa

Petscams.com volunteer network has identified a large organised crime syndicate operating puppy scams in South Africa. These scammers appear to be based in the Gauteng region of South Africa and are targeting prospective pet buyers nationally. The fraudsters are operating over 100 websites which are selling everything from puppies to kittens and exotic birds in conjunction with fake courier websites to make customers pay for additional non-existent shipping fees.

The case is subject to an ongoing enquiry by SAPS and partner organisations. Furthermore, it has received national media coverage on Carte Blanche https://m-net.dstv.com/show/carte-blanche/videos/online-pet-scam/video.


The report references the website “Puppies 4 South Africa

How does the fraud syndicate operate?

Step 1 – “The Hook”. The scammers have stolen text and images from legitimate pet websites and offer prices that are “too good to be true” so that you become attached to the puppy. You will be moved to SMS. They will quickly draw you into a relationship. This particular syndicate utilises SMS and collects payment via bank wire in an attempt to appear legitimate.

Step 2 – “The Sting”. By now you have paid the syndicate for a puppy that doesn’t exist. You will now be introduced to recurring fees such as a “temperature-controlled air crate” “documentation” and other made up nonsense in an attempt to receive more money from you.

Step 3 – “Identity Theft”. This syndicate request victims to send their ID to them. Once received, they have stolen their identity and start registering websites under the victims details, register email addresses under their name and send the ID to other victims to convince them that the victim is part of the fraud setup. This has resulted in online vigilantism against victims who have also been scammed!

Advice

To find out if the breeder you are talking to is a legitimate breeder, a simple piece of advice is to ask them to videochat with you and make them pick up and show you the desired pet on live video.

If you have been scammed, please do get in touch with us. We can pass your details onto the relevant authorities investigating this case, which will assist them in their investigation.

We are also working with the South African based “Scam Pup” who are collating information on these scams affecting South Africans here:
Report pet scams in South Africa

Attribution:Carte Blanche

What to do next?

As well as reporting this to the Registrar it is very important to report this crime to your local Law Enforcment. We have compiled a list of Law Enforcement agencies worldwide.You can find a link (here) as well as reporting wire fraud using money transfer agencies (here).

If you live in the US it is important to report this scam to the BBB. Click here to see why. As well as the Better Business Bureau you should report this crime to the Federal Trade Commission. See Here

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